Acclaimed director Hubert Sauper’s latest film showcases Cuba, a country with a strong appeal to the imagination. Following alarming films about the excesses of capitalism and post-colonialism (Darwin’s Nightmare, We Come As Friends), this time the Austrian filmmaker has created a tranquil, kaleidoscopic portrait of this geographic epicenter of the Americas, which was the first port of call for New World explorers.
Sauper philosophizes about the influence of propagandist cinema on Cuban history and interviews locals about the state of the country. Two spirited teenage girls (dubbed “little prophets” in the credits) give a refreshingly open account of the turbulent history of the slave trade, colonialism and dictatorship. Their freedom is certainly limited, but look at the US, one of them argues: What is freedom worth if only millionaires can become president?
Atmospheric shots of Havana are interspersed with historical archive footage, and as Che Guevara and Fidel Castro look on from the murals, tour buses circle the antique convertibles, dutifully photographed by European passengers. Are they, the tourists, the next invasion?